Move over Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce, there’s another couple with a connection to Cincinnati (Kelce was a Bearcat for those unaware) to talk about. Bob Nightengale of USA Today noted that the Reds and Joey Votto appear to be “on their way to a breakup” in his latest piece.
Nightengale notes that the team has no interest in picking up his option for the 2024 season at $20,000,000. No one is surprised by that. We’ve all known that wasn’t happening a while ago. But he also notes that Votto has shown little interest in a part-time role. With a young infield that already doesn’t have enough spots for Jonathan India, Spencer Steer, Christian Encarnacion-Strand, Elly De La Cruz, Matt McLain, and Noelvi Marte – Joey Votto just adds to a situation of trying to find playing time for everyone.
There were times in 2023 when Joey Votto was healthy but wasn’t playing. He would sit against some left-handed pitchers. During the final series of the year David Bell opted to start left-handed hitting Nick Martini over Votto twice. The role Votto played was smaller than ever before.
While there was no real commitment from Votto on whether he wanted to return for 2024 following the final game of the regular season, it didn’t take long for him to make that decision. Five days later he was on the Dan Patrick Show and stated he wanted to return for the 2024 season. And while he said he’d prefer to return to the Reds, if they didn’t want to bring him back that he was open to seeking an opportunity to play somewhere else.
Cincinnati not picking up Joey Votto’s option probably isn’t the biggest hurdle for the two sides to overcome. Declining the option doesn’t mean that the two couldn’t come to an agreement for a new deal for 2024. But not being able to provide more playing time than it seems the organization is willing to give him certainly could be a big factor. Votto wants a chance to play often. That’s a tough sell for the Reds given all of the young players that they are already going to struggle to play every day in 2024.